SAC Webcast Highlights the “Access to Care: Telemedicine” project in Alabama
The release of the “HIV Treatment Cascade” in March 2011 revealed that nearly 3 out of 4 people living with HIV in the U.S. have failed to successfully navigate the HIV Continuum of Care. HIV service providers and stakeholders must examine the critical questions of why those tested and diagnosed with HIV many times are not linked and retained in care, and what barriers can be eliminated to make sure HIV+ individuals are getting the life-saving treatment that they need. The Access to Care Initiative: Telemedicine (“AC:T”) sets to address this issue in the rural South. In the South, two thirds of people living with HIV reside in the rural areas. Research shows that rural persons living with HIV disease, as compared to their urban counterparts, suffer from significantly higher problem severity ratings for the following barriers: the need to travel long distances to medical facilities and personnel; a shortage of adequately trained medical and mental health professionals; a lack of personal or public transportation; and community residents’ stigma toward people living with HIV. The telemedicine project in Alabama is able to provide a solution for all these barriers. This project is one of a small cohort of sites around the country. It actualizes the potential of technology to dissolve the structural barriers to care presented by rurality, endemic poverty, stigma, and simple scarcity of resources. It uses telemedicine for the provision of high-quality HIV/AIDS care, effectively dissolving the barriers to optimal engagement faced by rural consumers throughout the deep South.
The Southern AIDS Coalition, with the support of Janssen Therapeutics and AIDS United, was delighted to present information and share best practices from the experts that piloted this revolutionary program. Faculty for the webcast included:
- Prashanth Bhat, MD, HIV/AIDS Specialist, Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Inc., Montgomery, Alabama
- Mary Elizabeth Marr, Chief Executive Officer, AIDS Action Coalition, Huntsville, Alabama
- Sandra Percival, Telemedicine and Distance Learning Initiatives Program Director, Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Inc., Montgomery, Alabama
We invite you to view the archived webcast where program faculty discussed this innovative technology and provided insight from the point-of-view of the organizational director, physician and project manager. Through this conference they (1) present the benefits of telemedicine and how it can improve HIV treatment and care; (2) provide concrete, realistic information necessary to implement a telemedicine program, and (3) share information that will essay customs for students coordinate stakeholders to improve HIV prevention, care and treatment in the South.
 Reif, S., Golin, C.E., and Smith, S.R. (2005, July). AIDS Care: Barriers to accessing HIV/AIDS care in North Carolina: Rural and Urban Differences. Retrieved from: http://www.med.unc.edu/healthonwheels/files/rural-health-disparity-articles/Barriers%20to%20accessing%20HIV%20AIDS%20care%20in%20North%20Carolina-Rural%20and%20urban%20differences.pdf